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Old 02-03-2009, 02:37 AM   #1
Jabic
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Default Back Sweetening Questions

I brewed a cyser (or melomel? see below - you tell me what to call it) using the following recipe:

1.5 gal apple cider
1 gal apple/cherry cider
3# Buckwheat honey
2# Wildflower honey

OG was 1.107 and fermented with White Labs Champagne Yeast. After 3 months, and one racking, the cyser has reached SG: 1.000 and become a crystal clear pink!

Anyway, I have tasted my creation and I enjoy it, but before I transfer it again (some lees have collected) and continue bulk aging, I thought now may be a good time to kill off any remaining yeast and sweeten it up a bit.

So, a few questions. First, what chemicals and in what quantities do I use in order to kill off any yeast (or bacteria) remaining in the cyser?

Second, I have access to good honey, cider (cherry and apple) and Oregon fruit purees, so what sort of levels of sweetness can I expect from each and do any of these sweeteners lead to any complications? I want a fairly dry cyser (I dislike meads that are medicinal in their sweetness) but I think it needs something to balance out the acidity and fairly high alcohol of its current state - so what is a ballpark for amounts of sweetener of the types above?

Thanks for the help. I'm new at this cyser thing, so sorry for any dumb questions!

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Old 02-03-2009, 02:55 PM   #2
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Get some wine conditioner and add it to taste. It contains all the chemicals needed to stun the yeast and sugar to sweeten.

You'll have to bottle it still if you want to backsweeten. If you want it carbonated, you have to choose between sweetening and still, or be able to keg it.

Alternatively, if you don't find the flavor objectionable, you can sweeten with an unfermentable sugar like splenda, lactose, stevia, or (maybe?) xylitol. With unfermentable sugars, there's no need to stun the yeast.

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Old 02-03-2009, 05:26 PM   #3
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I understand. However, I thought people used something called "campden" tablets - I've seen these at my LHBS. Also, I do plan to bottle it still, and probably I won't bottle it until it has bulk aged for at least a year, so I'm not in any particular rush.

Is there any reason not to use honey or fruit to back sweeten? I thought these may compliment the flavor and even add to the complexity.

One last question: How common are meads with a FG of 1.000? Did I make something that will just be overly dry?

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Old 02-03-2009, 05:35 PM   #4
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Jabic, You can do it either way. I actually prefer a different backsweetening method for meads, cysers, and ciders other than wine conditioner. That's ok for wines made with grapes, but not so much for honey wines.

Anyway....to backsweeten a batch such as yours honey is an excellent choice as is fruit purees. Seeing as your batch sounds pretty much "finished"...I'd go ahead and add add potassium sorbate (1/2 tsp per gallon)..this is a stabilizer that helps prevent renewed fermentation and then Campden tablets (KMS) this is basically a preservative. When used together they work quite well in stopping any further fermentation. I believe it's 5 crushed campden tabs per 5 gallons.

Rack your cyser/mead onto these two chemicals in another container....let it sit for 48 hours...then you can backsweeten with whatever you so choose. Again, I prefer honey or other fruit puree's to sweeten my meads and such. You'll want to keep a hydrometer handy and test until you hit the gravity you are aiming for. You are currently at 1.000..so take it up slowly until you get it to where you like it. I like my sweet meads, ciders, cysers to be around 1.012 FG

Hope that helps
Dan

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Old 02-03-2009, 05:55 PM   #5
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1/2 tsp per gallon Sorbate
1 Campden tablet (Potassium metabisulfite(sp)) per gallon.

dissolve in a small amount of warm water then add to the mead
Then you can back sweeten to the desired level using honey or sugar.

If you want to add fruit then I would not stabilize yet. Instead I would add the fruit to a fermenter then rack the mead onto the fruit. You can add a Campden tablet per gallon to the mead to help prevent oxidation and wild yeast/bacteria, but you probably don't need it.

Craig

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Old 02-03-2009, 06:06 PM   #6
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Craig and Dan - thanks for the replies.

Could you please explain why I should not stabilize if I plan to use a fruit puree? I'm just not clear on the rationale.

Thanks for the patience and help guys, I do appreciate it very much!

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Old 02-03-2009, 06:41 PM   #7
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Wine conditioner is just sugar with the same ingredients as campden tablets and sorbate. Using it is the same as using those things separately, it just simplifies the process.

If you want to backsweeten with fruit then yeah, don't use wine conditioner.

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Old 02-03-2009, 07:05 PM   #8
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I would also agree that using a wine conditioner in mead is not the best choice. Yes, it's simple. However, after all the work to ferment and fine your honey must, why add a concentrated sugar solution to it...? Not to mention the cost of the honey...

Once fermentation is no longer active, add the sorbate and KMETA combination (they're synergistic). Following that, you can backsweeten to your taste with more honey (or fruit puree).

Be aware that doing this will delay bottling as these new additions will require more time to clearing (or fining).

BTW, using Campden tablets means you may be using a sodium based compound rather than the potassium based metabisulfite - they both appear as white(ish) tablets...

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Old 02-03-2009, 07:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jabic View Post
Craig and Dan - thanks for the replies.

Could you please explain why I should not stabilize if I plan to use a fruit puree? I'm just not clear on the rationale.

Thanks for the patience and help guys, I do appreciate it very much!
Usually when adding fruit to a mead you want the fruit to ferment. This will help to extract the flavor from the fruit pulp. I guess it is not necessary but it is how it is normally done.

Also usually your mead will be a finished product before you stabilize and back sweeten. When you add fruit it will take additional time for the mead to clear again.

Honey is the best choice to back sweeten a mead. Fruit juice may also work. Sugar can be used but I would go with honey. i don't think i would use a wine conditioner even for wine, but then I like to know what i am using.

Craig
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Old 02-03-2009, 08:52 PM   #10
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Hightest...I guess I learn something new everyday..I had always thought that Campden tabs (KMS) were the same thing as Potassium Metabisulphite, just in tablet form. My Kmeta is a fine white powder..I've never seen it in tablet form other than Campden Tabs.

So are Campden Tablets and Kmeta interchangable? I have both and usually use whatever the recipe calls for. But if Kmeta is "better" to use, I'll just change my recipes to using that.

Thanks
Dan

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